A gastronomic evolution
Catalonia and the Basque Country were always considered Spain’s gastronomic destinations, but over the last five years, Madrid has made itself heard and recognised. Thanks to the efforts of young chefs with fresh ideas and important hotel openings such as the Mandarin Oriental Ritz and the Four Seasons Hotel Madrid, the city is becoming one of the most exciting gastronomic landscapes in Spain.
Markets of Madrid
There are two fresh produce markets where the locals go. One of them is Mercado de Chamartin, one of my favourite places to shop. The second is Mercado Maravillas. It’s a bit bigger and is not exclusive to Spanish products. Madrid has welcomed a lot of immigrants over the past two decades. Thanks to them, our market halls are a lot more diverse. So in a way, Madrid’s food culture is the coming together of all the backgrounds that make up the city. Mercado Maravillas is a great place to witness this.
Where to eat in Madrid
Roostiq is one of my absolute favourite places to eat. In my opinion, it makes the best pizza in Madrid. Another place I like to visit in my free time is Ugo Chan, opened in 2022 by chef Hugo Muñoz, which serves a mix of Mediterranean and Japanese. The best way to eat there is to go with a bunch of people and order as many dishes to share as possible. O’Pazo is a restaurant I appreciate for its simplicity and care for the product: you especially shouldn’t miss out on the angulas (Spanish baby eels). Estimar cannot go unmentioned. Everything here tastes fantastic, but I especially recommend anything fried the Andalusian way.
Where to get your paella fix in Madrid
I love paella and I have two long-time favourite spots to get my fix. Berlanga executes it perfectly, the Valencian way, which is believed to be the original paella recipe made with round-grain rice, chicken, rabbit, a variety of beans and garden vegetables. When I want something a little more informal I go to Samm. It’s very low-key compared to Berlanga, but the rice dishes are equally as wonderful.
Where to celebrate in Madrid
I always go to Paco Roncero Restaurante when I have something to celebrate. It has a unique sense of hospitality and is in a marvellous location on the top floor of the Casino de Madrid. Ingredients stand centre stage in Roncero’s highly refined dishes that have drawn inspiration from everywhere. I also like to treat myself to a meal at Dstage. I’m always curious to see where Diego Guerriero’s fantasy world has taken him. His cooking style involves a variation of classical and modern techniques and he works a lot with fermentation, but still manages to present Spanish cuisine with contemporary flair.
Smoked Room is another celebratory place that opened recently. The whole menu is built around fire and smoke. The meat part of the tasting menu is outstanding but what they can do with vegetables and desserts is also impressive.
Coque is also a great choice on special occasions. It’s very creative, but the cuisine still feels very Spanish with a lot of references to Madrid’s unique food culture.
My favourite dish has been the same since childhood and that’s cocido madrileño. The best restaurant to try it is Casa L’Hardy. Pig’s tripe is another dish one shouldn’t miss when in Madrid. You can try it along with other traditional dishes at La Tasquita de Enfrente or Casa Labra. I also really like La Paloma, a very humble but very legit tapas bar frequented by locals only.
The best tapas in Madrid
Street food in Madrid is all about tapas. La Catapa is a very low-key taberna with a nice selection of high-quality tapas. Close by is Arzabal, another taberna with great tapas that has a couple of other locations around the city. Taberna Laredo and Kulto are also great options for small plates.